Rugby Canada’s two Langford-based Academy programs have assembled and resumed training at the Al Charron National Training Center.  Both programs are adhering to strict COVID-19 safety protocols. 

October 14, 2020 (Langford B.C.) - Rugby Canada’s two Langford-based Academy programs have assembled and resumed training at the Al Charron National Training Center.  Both programs are adhering to strict COVID-19 safety protocols. 


Maple Leaf Academy:

The Maple Leaf Academy (MLA) is a NextGen program that supports up-and-coming female players who aspire to be selected to Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team and compete at the Olympic Games and on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.  This year’s MLA is comprised of 12 players selected from over 75 applicants from across Canada between the ages of 18 and 22 years old.  The MLA is a full-time commitment for these players who train Monday to Friday for 5 hours per day.  These athletes receive the added benefit of training alongside the senior women’s sevens team for many of their sessions. 

This year, the Maple Leaf roster is a testament to the continued development of the Women’s National Program Pathway.  Several of the athletes are graduates of the Ontario-based and Belmont High School-based Development Academies, with additional talent identified through other stakeholder partnerships.

The ongoing efforts of our network of Talent ID coaches across the country continue to advance athletes through to our National Programs. These partnerships are now more important than ever, given the regionalized approach to rugby operations during the COVID-19 pandemic,” shared Kristy Martin Hale, Coordinator Women High Performance.

The Academy is led by head coach and veteran Canadian international in both 15s and 7s, Kelly Russell.  Russell is another addition to a group of ex-National team players now serving as Rugby Canada coaches and provides abundant experience to this young crop of players.  Amongst other achievements throughout her international career, Russell captained Canada at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup and won Bronze with Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. 

“I’m very excited to be working with such a dedicated young group of players,” said Russell.  “These are obviously very unusual circumstances that we’re training in, but these girls are staying focused and working extremely hard.”

Russell was the assistant coach in the Ontario-based Development Academy last year and has returned to the Al Charron National Training Centre in Langford to lead the Maple Leaf squad. Joining her from the Ontario Academy is athlete Chloe Daniels, the youngest member of the Maple Leaf’s roster. Daniels and her teammates all have their sights set on the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

For the remainder of 2020, the Academy will follow detailed training schedules with enhanced cleaning and safety protocols at the Al Charron National Training Centre.  The domestic and international competition schedule for the MLA remains uncertain due to the global pandemic.  For now, the squad will gain invaluable experience by playing controlled scrimmages with the senior women’s team.


The 2020-21 Maple Leaf Academy Roster and Staff:

Chloe Daniels             Sutton, ON                  Aurora Barbarians

Ella O'Regan               Victoria, BC                 Castaway Wanderers

Fancy Bermudez        Edmonton, AB             Nor'Wester Athletic Association

Karina Gauto             Edmonton, AB             Edmonton Clansmen

Kiri Ngawati                Victoria, BC                Unaffiliated

LarahWright                Calgary, AB                Calgary Hornets

Maggie Mackinnon     Sooke, BC                 Unaffiliated

Makayla Joseph          Calgary, AB                Notre Dame High School

Renee Gonzalez         Minnesota, USA          Westshore/UVIC

Shalaya Valenzuela    Abbotsford, BC           Abbotsford RFC

Sierra Gillis                 Victoria, BC                Unaffiliated

Summer Blackmore    Cranbrook, BC            Mt. Baker High School

Lizze Gibson               Caledon, ON              Oakville Crusaders


Kelly Russell, Head Coach

Jenn Joyce, Strength & Conditional Coach 

Nicky Allen, Athletic Therapist & Medical Lead 

Kristy Martin Hale, Program Manager

Amarah Epp-Stobbe, Sport Scientist

Vanessa Zoras, Sport Dietician 

Kirsten Barnes, Mental Performance 

John Tait, Director Women’s Performance 


Rugby Canada National Development Academy

The Rugby Canada National Development Academy provides a professional training environment for targeted male players from across Canada.  The program is comprised largely of uncapped players whose progression suggests they are one to three seasons away from playing senior international rugby.  Academy players are evaluated and selected by Rugby Canada in collaboration with Provincial Unions.  Identified players include those who have come through current age-grade national and provincial team systems, the various club and university leagues throughout Canada, and Canadian-qualified foreign based players.

The Academy operates 10 months of the year, training at the Al Charron National Training Centre. As a team, the Academy competes in the BC Rugby Men’s Premier League under the name ‘Pacific Pride’ which is an homage to the original Pacific Pride program from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.  The early ‘Pride’ teams helped contribute a majority of players that represented Canada at the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups.  This included Academy head coach Jamie Cudmore, an alumni from the 2000-01 Pacific Pride team.  Cudmore is supported by assistant coach Phil Mack who recently joined the Academy staff. 

“I’m excited to get to work with this young talent from across the country,” said Cudmore.  “The addition of Phil to our staff will be of huge benefit to the players.  He obviously has vast experience at the international level in both 15s and 7s, but his experience coaching with the Seattle Seawolves in MLR is also a huge asset for our program.”

The 2020-21 Academy roster has been selected and assembled for training in Langford.  The 36-man squad has split into 3 training bubbles and follows strict pre- and post-training safety and cleaning protocols.  At this time, the focus of training has been conditioning and skill development. 


The 2020-21 Rugby Canada National Development Academy Roster and Staff:

Chris Atkinson             Surrey, BC                              Surrey Beavers

James Biss                 London, UK                             Old Elthamians RFC

D'Shawn Bowen*        Kingston, ON                          Unattached

Liam Bowman             Mississauga, ON                    Oakville Crusaders

Liam Casey                 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia         KL Saracens

Thomas Davidson      Chelsea, QC                           Toronto Scottish RFC

Reid Davis                  White Rock, BC                      Bayside RFC

Foster Dewitt              Courtenay, BC                        Westshore RFC

Kaden Duguid             Edmonton, AB                         Norwesters

Mason Flesch             Cobourg, ON                          Cobourg Saxons

Brock Gallagher          Edmonton, AB                         Strathcona Druids RFC

Sion Griffiths               Mill Bay, BC                            Castaway Wanderers

Nik Hildebrand            Nanaimo, BC                          Burnaby Lake Rugby Club

Thomas Isherwood*   Skelmanthorpe, England        Foothills Lions RFC

Austin  James             North Vancouver, BC             Burnaby Lake Rugby Club

Dewald Kotze             Edmonton, AB                         Strathcona Druids RFC

Bryce McKinnon         Water Valley, AB                    Regina Rogues

Liam Murray                Langley, BC                            James Bay AA

Anton Ngongo*           Victoria, BC                             Castaway Wanderers

Cody Nhanala             Ottawa, ON                             Ottawa Ospreys RFC

James O'Neill             Cochrane, AB                         Calgary Canucks/UVIC

Isaac Olsen                 Victoria, BC                             Castaway Wanderers

Brennig Prevost*         Victoria, BC                             Castaway Wanderers

Emerson Prior             Brockville, ON                         Peterborough Pagans

Tyler Rowland             Mississauga, ON                    Toronto Nomads

Alex Russell*              Montreal, QC                          McGill University

Michael Smith             White Rock, BC                      UBC Thunderbirds

Crosby Stewart            Prince Rupert, BC                  UVIC Vikes

Josh Thiel                   Abbotsford, BC                       Abbotsford RFC

Siaki Vikilani               Burnaby, BC                           Burnaby Lake Rugby Club

Taitusi Vikilani             Burnaby, BC                           Burnaby Lake Rugby Club

Brock Webster*           Uxbridge, ON                          Oshawa Vikings

Tyler Wong                 North Vancouver, BC             Unattached

*players also training with the 7s program


Jamie Cudmore, Head Coach

Phil Mack, Assistant Coach

Michael Deasy, Strength & Conditioning Coach

Andrew McMillan, Athletic Therapist

Kingsley Jones, Director of Men’s Performance Rugby




About Rugby Canada:

Rugby Canada is the national governing body of the sport of Rugby Union in Canada. They administer and operate Men’s and Women’s Senior and Junior National programs in both rugby XV’s and 7s, as well as govern the Club and community game for more than 30,000 registered participants from coast to coast in conjunction with ten Provincial Union members.

Rugby Canada is headquartered at the Al Charron National Training Centre in Langford, BC, with staff also working from Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. Rugby Canada business operations, programs and events are delivered nationwide, including the internationally recognized HSBC Canada Sevens annual tournaments.

For more information, please contact: